Tuesday 7 April 2015

Swallows and Kestrels on a North Muskham Run

I realise that I haven't provided you with any more adventurous content for a while, winter makes cycling and longer distance cross country running rather tricky. My run along the Farndon river stretch partly made up for it; today I went further afield, out to North Muskham Lake.

This is on the very fringe of my running capabilities, I'd say, being not far off 5 miles from home.

As it turned out, it was a day for looking up, rather than looking down. I thought there would be a lot of flowers out at Muskham Lake, but as it turned out, aside from a few cowslips and beautiful willow blossom, there wasn't a whole lot to be seen.

But the sky, well the sky was busy with life. Two male buzzards were spiralling up on a thermal by the Great North Road, while a clumsy human on a motorised paraglider surrendered to gravity in my same field of view. South Muskham church was being used as a watchtower by at least three, and perhaps even four kestrels, which flew off the south face of the clock tower as I approached, scalpelling the air with molecule thin wings.

And then, after a circuit of the lake, and an enjoyable run along the Muskham Ferry stretch of the river, I saw it. A bird on a wire, by the big barned farm at the entrance to North Muskham that always seems so attractive to birds. A small, dark bird, but a highly significant one.

The first swallow of the year, glossy black blue plumage and tail streamers like stilettos. Red face plain as a robin's breast. Sat quietly watching me, waiting for the precise moment I deployed my camera-phone to fly off south with that beautiful, powerful flight.

April 7th. I remember my first swallows and sand martins of last year. They all descended upon Kingsmill Reservoir on the same day, probably a week or two later. Remember it well, my mother was in hospital there for a month. A time of stress, relieved by my walks around the water.

So though it was only one swallow, it was seen in rather happier circumstances.


Bonus bee fly at the start of my run

South Muskham church tower

Ancient tombs

Berries, blossom and church, North Muskham

Celtic cross in North Muskham churchyard

Willow flowers, North Muskham Lake

Across the water


Docked conveniently close to the pub

First green alkalet of the year

South Muskham dovecote, sans doves


  1. Your local fauna seems to be much more advanced than that in my local patch wood, which is surprising , up north being colder and all that,I like the Bee fly photo, still waiting for my first swallow, I had to wait until I retired before I got a reasonable camera, its all about what you see, not your photographs. enjoy your running.

  2. Thank you very much, I'm always trying to sharpen my observational skills, and doing this helps. Too bad I'm rubbish with my ears, no good with birdsong!